KPL relegation battle on, who’s next after Muhoroni?
With Muhoroni Youth relegated from the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and Gor Mahia waiting to be coroneted as the 2017 champions, the big question remains who joins the former to the National Super League (NSL) in 2018.
Interestingly, with only two matches to go, not even 13th placed Zoo Kericho in the 18-team log is safe, being only five points above 17th placed Western Stima, who have 32.
Thus, albeit the big relegation danger facing Stima, Zoo, Nakumatt (14th, with 36 points) Mathare United and Thika United will have to win their round 33 matches to confirm their places in the KPL next season.
A win for Mathare and Thika will leave them needing just a draw in their final league fixtures on November 18 to lock out Stima from Kenya’s topflight. This weekend wins could be enough also, if their superior goal difference against the power men stands to the end.
Mathare have a date with Muhoroni on Saturday, a side that has been soaking in goals pitifully, lately.
In their last encounter against Kariobangi Sharks, the Awasi based side was hammered 7-0, and Francis Kimanzi’s men are raring to compound their woes in a must win fixture for their survival.
“The lads braved wet weather conditions at the Goan Institute Grounds to continue with their preparations for the weekend match against relegated Muhoroni. The first leg encounter ended in a barren draw and the players have set their sights on victory come Saturday.
“Andrew Juma is back in training after shaking off a knock on his ankle though Daniel Mwaura remains sidelined,” the 2008 champions posted on their official portal on Thursday.
Kimanzi’s men have not lost in their last six outings, including their important victory against champions, Gor.
“Every game since the season started has been very important because you always want to be in a better position. Sometimes things go wrong but that doesn’t mean that we are panicking. If we keep on playing like we are doing I know we will get some more points, and safe we are,” Kimanzi said after their barren stalemate against Sofapaka FC.
True to his words, Kimanzi has been playing a game of avoiding defeat in the homestretch of the competition, which has been paying dividends.
Stima could seal their KPL exit if with anything less than a win on Saturday, when they clash with second placed Posta Rangers. Rangers are keen to finish second, and are currently tied at 50 points with Tusker FC.
There is therefore no room for complacency, as head coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo said after a barren draw against Bandari on Sunday.
“We played well bearing in mind we were away. There was however every sign we could have done better.
“The target is to finish in the best position possible (number two), and we will work hard to achieve it in the last two rounds,” Omollo said.
The reverse fixture on April 9 ended 1-0 in Rangers advantage.
Sony Sugar welcomes Nakumatt in Mumias in a match whose significance lies on the latter. A win will affirm Nakumatt’s KPL slot in 2018, despite the pending case in court over legality of their promotion into the top tier this season.
Sony are 10th, and a win for them will be just for pride.
On April 8, the teams battled to a goalless draw at home to Nakumatt. They have red-hot Sharks next before closing the season.
Zoo v Thika
The only clash pitting two sides yet to book their place in the premier league next season in round 33 will see Zoo and Thika lock horns at the Kericho Green Stadium on Wednesday.
In other matches, AFC Leopards will host Chemelil Sugar at the Moi Sports Centre, Kasarani in the only match slated for Sunday. Gor visit Kakamega Homeboyz in Mumias as Bandari and Ulinzi Stars face off in Mombasa.
Tusker versus Sofapaka and Sharks against Nzoia completes the weekend fixtures. The brewers hosting their 2009 champions counterparts, while Jericho’s Camp Toyoyo stages the latter.
In the race to the Golden Boot award, Sharks’ Masoud Juma leads the way with 15 goals, three ahead of Gor duo of Jaques Tuyisenge and Medie Kagere who tie with Nakumatt’s Kepha Aswani at 12.
Sofapaka’s Ugandan marksman Umaru Kasumba and Ulinzi’s Stephen Waruru complete the top six with 11 goals apiece. Their quest to bag the award, last season , carried home by former Ulinzi striker John Makwatta, could provide a spice in the second last matches of the season.
Mathare United vs Muhoroni Youth (Ruaraka 2PM)
Bandari vs Ulinzi Stars (Mbaraki 3PM)
Kakamega Homeboyz vs Gor Mahia (Mumias 3PM)
Kariobangi Sharks vs Nzoia Sugar (Camp Toyoyo 3PM)
Sony Sugar vs Nakumatt (Awendo 3PM)
Tusker FC vs Sofapaka (Ruaraka 4:15PM)
Western Stima vs Posta Rangers (Moi stadium 3:00PM)
AFC Leopards vs Chemelil Sugar (MISC Kasarani 3PM)
Zoo Kericho vs Thika United (Kericho Green Stadium 3pm)